More specifically, are computers a blessing or a curse? There are a lot of younger people who have never seen the time where there weren’t computers; but, for those of us with a little grey in our hair we do remember a time when we watched with amazement as a little square slowly drifted across the screen and we were mesmerized for hours playing Pong. We remember starting our computer in the morning and than walking off to perform other tasks as we waited the twenty to thirty minutes it took for the computer to be ready for service. We remember the floppy disks that were used to store information and transfer information from one computer to another either by walking it across the room or via courier across the city, state or country. We remember when letters were written and phone calls made to convey ideas and conduct business. The advent of computers changed the way we worked and did business.
A lot has changed over the years and I’m not sure if it is for the better or the worst. The games available today can allow us to escape into a world of fantasy. A world where we can be the sports star we dreamed of as a child but were never able to achieve or go into the depths of darkness to fight dragons, demons or criminals. The images are, in some cases, so real it is hard to distinguish if it is fictional. A majority of the games on the market today promote violence without consequences. However, we are still mesmerized for hours playing them.
When we start a computer today we are lucky if we can get a cup of coffee before it’s ready for service; and if it isn’t ready when we are there is a sense of frustration. Vast volumes of information can be stored on the computer’s hard drive, portable hard drive, and thumb drive. We now carry the information on these portable drives or share it over an Intranet or Internet. Information can move across the room, city, state, country or world in a mater of seconds; and if it doesn’t there is a sense of frustration. Correspondence is conducted less by letters and phone and more by email and text message. Information flows quickly over the Intranet and Internet; and if it doesn’t the lack of information brings everything to a screeching halt. Yes, the advent computers changed the way we work and do business.
Computers have also changed the way I do business. At my company, Katchen Company, we provide a wide variety of real estate services. In every division of the company from brokerage, property management, development, consulting to construction and maintenance I’ve seen changes. I need less people and with computers they are able to perform more work in less time. Brokers are able to access shared real estate databases and research properties for their clients or market their own listings rather than rely upon printed books. Property managers can quickly enter data into computer programs rather than entering them on spreadsheets. Development, consulting and construction projects can be analyzed in a few hours to a few days rather than several days to a few weeks. Even maintenance jobs have become easier to track and bill because of computers. Yes the advent of computers changed the way I do business.
However, I wonder if it is a blessing or a curse as I see the effect it has had on business. The computer has quickened the pace of everything we do and the expectations people have of business performance are greater. We as individuals and businesses have become less personalized in the services we offer and the relationships we have with our associates and clients. Far worse than the high expectations and impersonal approach is the vulnerability we have as individuals and businesses. The detachment from personal connection with others has made us vulnerable to text messages and emails that are rude, crude or vicious. Intellectual rights are scoffed at as people wrongly assume that if information is available over the Internet it is free for their use. The information we store on our computers is destroyed by viruses, worms and Trojan Horses sent out by hackers and internet vandals. While we save money on labor there is more frequent turn over of employees and customers. Information flows more freely but the amount of money spent to recover it from damaged drive is tremendous. Yes the advent of computers changed the way business is done but at a great cost. Is technology a blessing or curse?